TAMS City Services director Fleur Flanery Maggie the dalmatian and Lucy the kelpie at Weston Park. Photo: Jeffrey ChanFor the first time from Monday, dogs can go for a walk through Weston Park, Lennox Gardens and Black Mountain Peninsula – on a leash, of course.
And in another ACT first, a trial of a timeshare arrangement in a Griffith park means dogs will be allowed off-leash for part of the day but must be on-leash for the remainder.
The change could be extended to other parks in Canberra if the trial is successful.
Changes to the ACT’s dog exercise area maps come into effect from Monday.
It is the first time in 11 years that policies governing how and where dogs can be exercised in Canberra have been reviewed.
The community consultation leading up to the changes was among the most popular ever conducted, with more than 1700 submissions received.
Among the most significant changes is that some of the most picturesque parts of Canberra – Lennox Gardens, Weston Park and Black Mountain – are now classed as dog on-leash areas after previously banning dogs.
It means all major parks in Canberra are now dog on-leash areas.
Dogs remain banned at playgrounds and barbecue areas across Canberra.
William Slim Drive pedestrian parkland has been changed from an on-leash to an off-leash area.
Fleur Flanery, director of City Services, in Territory and Municipal Services, said some people were opposed to letting dogs into the parks, including parents who had children scared of the animals. But she believed the dogs being on a leash and not allowed near playgrounds and barbecues provided extra security.
“It is a significant change but when you look at people recreating, they do want to go to places with their dogs. They want to walk with them or have a picnic and people’s time is limited,” she said.
“I think having these really big parks where the dogs were prohibited was probably a little bit restrictive.”
Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said the changes also meant that dogs had to be on a leash on all paths and cycleways to help improve the safety of walkers and cyclists.
Dogs could be off-leash at sporting grounds, including Hall Showground, when formal sports were not being played or a major event was not occurring.
“Dogs need to be kept under control so they do not interfere with other people’s enjoyment of public spaces,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“As a general rule, if people are ever in doubt they should keep their dog on a leash. Signage will be erected at locations across Canberra, such as ovals, to help educate the community about how the areas can be used.”
The timeshare trial will be at Blaxland Park in Griffith. Dogs can be off-leash from 6pm to 7am and on-leash for the rest of the time.
Ms Flanery said the trial would be closely monitored by government rangers and could be extended to other parks such as Haig Park in Turner if it proved successful.
“Having those timeshare arrangements is something that’s used in a lot of other jurisdictions, particularly on the South Coast,” she said.
Among the things rangers would be looking at was if dog owners were adhering to the time restrictions and picking up after their dogs.
The government would continue to assess other recreation areas identified in the consultation to see if further changes should be made.
“We haven’t updated the maps now in 11 years and it’s just very apparent to me they need to be something that are very dynamic, and as new areas are developed we need to get on to it early in the planning stage rather than wait another 10 or 11 years between changes,” Ms Flanery said.
People can comment on the changes to dog exercise area maps via www.timetotalk.act.gov.au until March 31.